Thor forced to give up the Tour

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Headline writers have had fun for years writing “Thor de France,” when reporting on the success of Norwegian cyclist Thor Hushovd at the world’s leading bike race. Now, for the first time in 11 years, the Tour will run without Thor, who just didn’t recover quickly enough from a virus earlier this season.

It was just last year that Norwegian cyclist Thor Hushovd could be shown here winning the 16th stage of the Tour de France. Now he's been knocked out by the aftermath of a virus but still aims to ride in the Olympics later this summer. At lower right in the photo is Edvald Boasson Hagen, another Norwegian who'll still be taking part in the race around France. PHOTO: Garmin-Cervelo

After riding high last year, Hushovd, age 34, has had a disappointing season so far this year. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday how the former cycling world champion had to break out of the Italia Rundt race and hasn’t started in a competition since, suffering the same symptoms as earlier: Lack of energy.

The doctor for his new team, BMC, said Hushovd is now healthy again but wasn’t able to recover early enough to be ready for the tough three-week Tour de France that starts in just three-and-a-half weeks. BMC thus sent out a press release late Monday night that he won’t be participating in the Tour this year.

Nor will he be riding in the race around Switzerland or the Norwegian Championships in Bergen. Instead he’ll take part in a race around Poland, as part of training for the Olympics in London later this summer.

Because that seems to be Hushovd’s top priority right now. He reportedly has a burning desire to do well in the Olympics mass start on July 28, less than a week after the Tour de France ends.

“This will probably be his last chance in an Olympics,” said cycling expert Mads Kaggestad of TV2. “He might have ended Tour de France on his knees, if he’s not in the best shape. The race around Poland (six days in mid-July) will be a good workout.”

Former Norwegian cyclist Dag Otto Lauritzen said he’s sorry Hushovd will miss the Tour de France, not just for Hushovd’s sake but also for TV viewers in Norway who like watching their home-grown hero from Grimstad on the country’s southern coast, even though Hushovd now lives mostly in Monaco. This is the first time Hushovd will skip the Tour de France since his debut in 2001.

New Norwegian cycling star Edvald Boasson Hagen will still be riding in Tour de France, though, and there’s a chance both Alexander Kristoff and Lars Petter Nordhaug will get a chance to ride as well, Lauritzen told Aftenposten.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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